I have a slight confession to make. I'm very much the tinkerer, but I also have this odd habit of avoiding sources of inspiration from other people's games. I've taken some great rules (d30, Shields Shall Be Splintered!, Philotomy's Combat) but for the most part, I tend to be Mr. Homebrew/Homegrown. So I'll download and read a lot of great stuff, but I don't lift it as-is.
So while I posted my thoughts Monday on alignment, I still wasn't entirely happy. I didn't like the thought that to the players, this all would still be arbitrary and I still was missing "something". Then Rob Conley laid a comment on me:
For clerics and paladins (myrmidons and the other crazy stuff I use in MW) I spell out what the creed and exceptions are in my one page handout. Players taking those classes catch on pretty quick to how things work.That sound of "click click BOOM" was the gears in my head sliding into place. Pretty much every religion has it's expectations and limitations - so write them down and codify them. Make the players figure out how to follow the Light, but with something to anchor on, they can figure it out and explore it themselves. It gives me the yardstick to measure their actions.
However it is import to have some type of culture/society. Even if it the default merrie olde england fantasy kingdom. This give context to the player in which to make moral decisions.
BTW, reading Majestic Wilderness was a treat to jogging the brain cells. Get it. No really, it's worth it, just for some seeds. I know all 137(x2) of you already know that but hey...
So this is what I came up with for "the Light" and sent to my players as a starting point for discussion:
The Tenents of the Light
- Protect your fellow human against the forces of darkness, but do not let the acts of Chaos and Darkness become your weapon of protection.
- Show mercy for the weak and unprotected, but show no mercy to the forces of Darkness and Chaos that threaten our great civilization.
- Truth shall be the beacon of Light that clears the darkness from our souls and brings us back to our rightful place. Be truthful and honest in all that you do.
- Stand forth and show no fear, lead your fellow humans to work together to overcome all that is lost.
- The Holy Priests, Champions and the King are the flames of the Light that shine in the darkness. Follow them and their orders. Without their orders, Chaos will darken the world.
Simple and direct, but gives my clerics something to hang their hat on. I've also started talking to clerics of the "old gods" (Jorann who worships Tangorin, and Kjeld who worships Vanir).
Edited 2/10 to add:
Here's a link to the campaign wiki's description on Tangadorin - one of the Judges Guild "Unknown Gods" entries that a player of mine uses as his cleric character's deity. The creed/rules for Tangadorin are there. The player helped me to come up with some of these.